Monday, December 21, 2009

Max Manus **

Director: Espen Sandberg, Joachim Rønning
Cast: Aksel Hennie, Nicolai Cleve Broch
Agnes Kittelsen, Ken Duken, Christian Rubeck, Kyrre Haugen Sydness

It seems that every country in the world has its own WWII story to tell, in "Max Manus" it's Norway's opportunity.
The biopic is centered on the title character (played by Hennie) who became the most important leader in the Norwegian resistance movement during the German invasion.
As would be expected the film follows his actions chronologically with the directors amping up the action sequences to fill the movie with some suspense (even if you just need to go online and look up his life to know how it all ended).
Mostly touted as the biggest movie to come out of Norway the film tries too hard to tap onto Hollywood-esque sensibilities and the result is a by-the-numbers film, completely devoid of any personality or soul.
The production is handsome and period accurate, but the characters are flat and uninteresting. Resistance members are good and their violence is always justified, sometimes even stretching events to make them look braver, while the Nazis are practically demons or James Bond villains who say things like "torture like a symphony consists of different movements" before they proceed to inflict said torture on the heroes.
The Nazis only avoid complete ridicule because of Duken who plays Max's biggest antagonist with the right sense of vampirical sadism and elegant charm.
Hennie is effective in the lead role, but we never see beyond his surface to fully comprehend who Max Manus was.
The movie tries in the last minute to examine the loneliness of the postwar soldier (what to do? who to be? once you're no longer in service) only to end with a smirk that seems to say hey if they make a movie about you, it can't be so bad.

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